Before I provide a run-down of the action at Monte Carlo I just wanted to mention the performance of my outright tips at Marrakech and Houston last week as the finals weren’t complete when I provided my last article on Sunday. Andujar (advised 66/1, 80/1 available) surprisingly won the Marrakech title against favourite Edmunds, who was very disappointing losing in straight sets, and at Houston Johnson (advised 25/1) retained his title against Sandgren (advised 40/1). To a level one point stake the total profits equalled 177 points, which equalled over three advised betting banks profit in one week!
On to this week and the Monte Carlo Masters 1000 Series is now well underway and at the time of writing the remaining first round and first set of second round matches were complete. There were no major first round upsets, but there were some surprise results, namely twelfth seed Berdych losing to the unseeded and former top-10 player Nishikori and Marrakech finalist Edmunds losing against qualifier and veteran Seppi. Former world number one and ninth seed Djokovic was impressive winning his first-round match 6-0 6-1 against compatriot Lajovic, but the main test will be when he comes up against the more talented and accomplished players on the tour and his next opponent Coric should provide him with more of a test.
Other seeds who progressed to the second round were tenth seed Schwartzman, who recovered from losing the first set 6-0 against compatriot Pella, eleventh seed Bautista Agut defeated German Gojowcyzk in straight sets, veteran and thirteenth seed Fognini ousted qualifier Ivashka, fourteenth seed Raonic recovered from a shock first set loss to oust Wild Card Catarina from Monaco and fifteenth seed and 2017 finalist Ramos Vinolas was too good for American youngster Donaldson winning in straight sets.
The biggest upset so far was seventh seed Pouille, who crashed out against veteran Mischa Zverev even though he cruised the first set 6-2 and the German is now through to the third round. Third seed Alexander Zverev recovered from losing the first set to oust veteran Muller and is now through to the third round. Fourth seed Dimitrov also recovered from losing the first set to see of Herbert and reach the third round, as did fifth seed Thiem, who saved match points to oust the talented NextGen star Rublev. Sixth seed Goffin is also through to the third round after beating qualifier and NextGen star Tsitsipas, and hopefully this will be a return to form for the Belgian top-ten star after picking up a nasty eye injury at Rotterdam back in February.
Today’s action includes top-seed and defending champion Nadal who gets his campaign underway against Bedene. Ninth seed Djokovic also features against Coric, tenth seed Schwartzman will face veteran Gasquet, which should be an entertaining and competitive encounter. From a betting perspective there could be some value opposing the favourite Schwartzman, as Gasquet leads the head-to-head 1-0 and he’s in good from having made the semi-finals at Marrakech last week. Eleventh seed Bautista Agut faces compatriot and veteran Lopez, who leads the head-to-head 2-1, and Bautista Agut won the last meeting at Madrid on clay back in 2016, which was a tight three setter, as was their previous encounter at Indian Wells the same year, which Lopez won.
Thirteenth seed Fognini and fourteenth seed Raonic should progress to the third round today against Struff and Cechinnato, as they lead the head-to-head 1-0 and 2-0 respectively. Raonic could be made to work hard for his victory as Cechinnato has the advantage of playing three matches already having qualified and he pushed Raonic close in their last encounter on clay at Rome back in 2016, which ended 6-4 4-6 6-4. Fifteenth seed Ramos-Vinolas faces a tough test in backing up his 2017 final run against veteran Kohlschreiber and the odds reflect this as the German is the favourite to progress to the third round with the bookies. Finally, Russian star Khachanov faces veteran Simon for the third time on the ATP Tour and both encounters were very close three setters. From a betting perspective I expect another competitive close encounter today, which will hopefully land the Over 21.5 Games line.